Starting your own business
Thinking about setting up a business?
Why would you work for yourself instead of working for someone else? For many the idea of "being my own boss" is appealing. You're in charge of your own future, the one who's in control of making the decisions. You get the opportunity to turn your ideas into practice and, with some planning, make some money from it!
However, there are also risks. Only one in three business start ups in the UK succeed in the first three years of business. So it is important that you do your research and get some help before taking this step.
Whatever your career option, there is often an opportunity to consider working for yourself. People start their own businesses in a range of areas from undertakers to journalists, lawyers to puppeteers, medical suppliers to musicians. So whether it's something you've never considered before or whether you are ready to go, this page will help you assess your skills and attitudes, help you understand what it’s like and put you in touch with organisations that can help you
What does it take to run your own business?
You may think it takes a certain type of person to start a business. Evan Davis, a presenter of BBC’s Dragons Den, suggests that the personal qualities a typical entrepreneur would have are:
- a team worker
- a risk-taker
- a hard worker.
If you've got the right attitude, there's no limit to what you can achieve as your own boss. We’ve all heard of Sir Alan Sugar, Oprah Winfrey and Anita Roddick - all successful entrepreneurs. But don’t forget the host of plumbers, shopkeepers, mechanics, hairdressers and others in your locality who also run successful, profitable small businesses.
The responsibility of being the boss can be pretty scary at first, but it doesn't have to be too scary; not when there's so much help and advice available to you in Wales. There's everything from financial grants to free marketing advice. Who knows what you could achieve with the right help and some self-belief.
Do you have what it takes?
To help you reflect on your own motivation and suitability for self-employment, try the Self-employment checklist on the Prospects website.
Before you start anything, take time to think through and plan your venture.
- What’s your business idea?
Your business idea can range from spotting a gap in the market to coming up with a brand new product or service. If you’re having difficulty, ask your friends or family to brainstorm ideas with you. You may already have a great idea that just needs a little more thought and they may just add the finishing touch.
- Do your market research
Before starting up your own business, you should carry out market research. You’ll need to work out that enough people will want to pay for your product or service for you to make a profit.
- Write a business plan
Use your market research findings to develop your business plan. You must have a business plan if you intend to apply for funding. Sample UK business plans are available free at BPlans.
- Finance your business
Read the advice given by The Prince’s Trust, Shell LiveWIRE, Startups and Business Wales. Also the self-employment section of the Prospects website.
- Get free business training and start-up advice from Welsh government-funded bodies
Get help to write a business plan, information on matters such as assessing insurance needs, tax and national insurance, and checking your legal responsibilities relating to issues such as health, staff employment and intellectual property rights.
Here are some further start-up tips that anyone starting a business would benefit from:
- Open a separate bank account for your business and keep records of all your income and expenditure right from the beginning.
- Start the business small, with minimum risks and costs.
- Always be looking to improve all aspects of your business, especially by listening to your customers. You will be surprised how honest people are when you ask how you can improve your service.
- Never stop doing your market research, checking is your Unique Selling Proposition still unique? Your Unique Selling Proposition sets you and your business apart from your competition. Put simply, it’s why customers buy from you rather than from the others.
- Provide the best customer service possible. Always treat customer complaints seriously - and put them right.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people in the same business field.
- Find friends, family members that can help you in particular aspects of your business, such as web design, graphic design, photography and press contacts.
- Don’t be afraid to try out ideas or approach new people or shops. The worst that can happen is that they say no.
Further information for starting your own business
- Startups provides a range of resources such as blogs, case studies, forums and podcasts to inspire would-be entrepreneurs.
- Cobweb Information for Business publishes free practical information that helps entrepreneurs start up and run their small businesses.
- The Prince’s Trust provides grants as well as help and advice to budding entrepreneurs between 18 and 30 years of age, as does Shell LiveWIRE.
- Enterprise4all specialises in supporting entrepreneurs from under-represented groups, such as women, people with disabilities, older people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
- Disabled Entrepreneurs Network provides networking opportunities and information services for self-employed disabled people.
- Prime Cymru is an initiative aimed at people over 50 starting their own business.